How to shoot, score and electrify like The Golden State Warriors

Advertisers and agencies should borrow from the playbook of the history-making NBA team, writes the president and CEO of BBDO San Francisco

Last yea,r the Golden State Warriors were NBA champions. Last night, they became the first team in NBA history to win 73 games in a season.

They have charmed the world with an electrifying brand of basketball played with passion and flair. So what can we learn from the Dubs?

Never stop improving. Last year the Warriors won the NBA Championship and Steph Curry was the league MVP. So what did they do in the offseason? Sit by the pool? Um, no. They worked their tails off. This year there is actually buzz in the basketball press that Steph could potentially win both the MVP and The Most Improved Player Award. Stop and think about that for a second. He was the best player in the league last year, but he still wasn’t satisfied.

In our business, that’s an attitude that says, business up?  Not enough. Let’s grow even more. Award-winning campaigns? No time to rest on our laurels. What can we do next? Imagine if you could inspire that amount of desire in your team — how much stronger could you be overnight?

Preparation means freedom. We can learn a ton from Coach Steve Kerr and his ability to balance preparation with spontaneity. For example, when he had his first interview with the Warriors owners — his prospective new boss — he brought an entire notebook filled with "in-bounds" plays to share. He’d been collecting these his whole career and knew the Warriors had some challenges on this front in the prior season.

In our business, preparation is just as important. What Kerr recognizes is that the more prepared you are, the looser you can actually play. No detail is too small. The rigor of preparation instills confidence and that creates more room for improvisation and spontaneity — both on the court and in the conference room.

Positivity radiates. Power forward Draymond Green embodies the kind of positive energy every team needs. Dray exudes positivity and competitive edge. He is the first to dive onto the floor for the loose ball and the one who smacks his teammates on their collective butts when they’re not working as hard as he thinks they should. He’s fiery and hates to lose, and they love him for it. We’ve all seen how even one energy vampire can suck the life out of a meeting. But when you’re trying to solve a business problem with creativity — as we do — radiators (not drainers) like Dray can fire up the flywheel of motivation and ideas. It becomes infectious. And success fuels success.

Everyone has a role. And you have to be ready when your number is called. Consider swingman Andre Iguodala. Veteran All-Star. Olympic Gold Medalist. But last year, Coach Kerr asked him to do something he’d never done before. Come off the bench. He did it without a complaint. And in the NBA finals, when the Warriors went down 2-1 against the Cavaliers, Coach Kerr went back to "Iggy" and asked him not only to start but to cover Lebron James. After an entire season coming off the bench, his selflessness was rewarded: He actually won the Finals MVP award.

Would one of your All-Stars be willing to check their ego for the greater good of the team? To take a back seat until the moment is right to step up? In new business presentations, clients can sense when an agency is actually working as a team versus when they’re just a group of individual All-Stars.

Play with joy. Warrior practices and warm-ups are different from any team you’ve ever seen. Sure, they drill shooting and offensive sets. But they also have a half-court shot competition. They even take full court shots like you did when you were a kid. And you’ll often see Steph juggling a basketball soccer-style before a game. That’s because the first of Coach Kerr’s key team values is to play with joy. The Warriors do and everyone watching can feel the energy, the passion and the fun they’re having.

After all, when you do what you love and love what you do, you win championships. You win business. And most importantly, you look forward to going to work every day.

Shouldn’t that be our goal?

Jim Lesser is President and CEO of BBDO San Francisco and a die-hard "Dubs" fan since moving to the Bay area in 1991 (when they went 55-27).  Since then, he’s watched them fall, rise, fall and rise again.


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